It was a day of Beauty at Sha Tin as the powerful Kwok clan flexed their muscles in the two feature events.
It is hard enough to win a single race in Hong Kong, but the family managed to salute with two short-priced favourites in the Group Three National Day Cup (1,000m) and Celebration Cup (1,400m) with Full Of Beauty and Beauty Generation, respectively.
While Full Of Beauty is a young horse on the rise, Beauty Generation has been at the top level for more than two seasons and it comes with expectations.
Owner Patrick Kwok Ho-chuen said pressure had mounted on everyone involved with the superstar throughout his 10-win streak, but would not change it for the world.
“For the last seven races now I have felt the pressure,” he said.
“He is going around at $1.2 odds in Group races, there is a lot of pressure, your friends message you and there is the expectation, but you wouldn’t change it.”
Beauty Generation was not without his doubters heading into the 2019-20 season after the Kwoks elected to not travel the horse overseas last season, instead staying at home in an attempt to extend his unbeaten run.
Lumped with the top-weight of 133 pounds and over an unfavourable distance, the undisputed king of Hong Kong racing showed he is not going anywhere.
The bulletproof seven-year-old now holds three Sha Tin track records over 1,400m, 1,600m and 2,200m – something Kwok says his family is extremely proud of.
“I think Beauty Generation has been the most impressive for us, because of all the pressure that comes with him now,” he said.
Beauty Generation still ‘one of the best in the world’ after making it 10 in a row with Sha Tin romp
“To do that at his age, this track, it hasn’t been good for leaders today but with all that he broke the track record as well.
“He now holds three track records, I think that is one of the most surprising things about this, it fills us with such happiness.”
While the Kwoks know they have a Group One winner in Beauty Generation, it is Full Of Beauty who could well prove to be the joker in the pack.
The five-year-old has hardly put a foot wrong in his nine-start career which has yielded six wins – all from an original rating of 52.
With the Group Three victory now under their belt, Kwok said he hoped to continue on to the Group One Hong Kong Sprint (1,200m) in December.
“We are very happy to win two cups today, we are very hopeful to do the same in the internationals,” he laughed.
“He looks like he has improved a bit, we asked [trainer] John [Size] what his potential is and he said he didn’t know yet but he seems like he could go somewhere, so we are hopeful.
“The two will go on the same path from here to the internationals, just over different distances.”
Wily Hall not fazed after notching his first win
Trainer David Hall may have gone the first month of racing winless, but it was not fazing the affable Australian.
Hall racked up his first winner of the 2019-20 season on Tuesday with Quadruple Double in the Class Four Chengdu Handicap (1,200m) and hinted there may be more to come with the progressive type.
Hall is never quick out of the blocks, having had the fewest starters (17) of any trainer before Tuesday’s meeting, compared to 46 from rival Caspar Fownes.
“If you don’t win in Hong Kong, that is what you get [pressure], am I feeling the pressure because I didn’t have a winner? Not really, the horses have been running well and we have hardly had any runners and not many race meetings,” he said.
“Sure it would have been nice to win one, but they have been running well. It is nice to get the monkey off the back and get the season underway.”
Having run consistently for much of his short career, Hall said it was only a matter of time before Quadruple Double broke through.
The four-year-old was given a gun on-pace run from jockey Matthew Poon Ming-fai and managed to burn off his competitors, included the highly fancied Super Winner.
“He has been a bit of a bridesmaid – had a lot of seconds and he was third first-up, but he is gelded now and more mature, so he seems better suited around the bend,” he said.
“I think he will make his way up the ratings a little bit further so we could experiment with Happy Valley and experiment with the distance, going to 1,400m a little bit but he is a genuine little competitor without being a star.”
Hall’s win leaves David Ferraris as the only trainer yet to get off the mark this season with the South African firing a blank from his 31 starts so far.
Ferraris is joined by the likes of Lyle Hewitson, Neil Callan, Umberto Rispoli, Ben So Tik-hung and Alex Lai Hoi-wing in the jockeys’ ranks.
Manfred the Man on National Day
Manfred Man Ka-leung cashed in at the biggest meeting of the season so far, training a double to take his tally for the season to four.
The reserved veteran was in the winner’s circle early, with E Star taking out the opening event in impressive style under jockey Derek Leung Ka-chun.
Leung tracked $2.20 shot Eight Trigrams around the home turn before peeling out in the straight and sailing past the hot favourite to record his second win at start number eight in the Class Four Chengdu Handicap (1,200m).
Man was on the board again in race four, with Smart Patch saluting at his first start for the trainer in the Class Four Jinan Handicap (1,600m).
The four-year-old, who switched from Paul O’Sullivan’s stable during the break, made it two wins in a row and will now head back into Class Three after finding his feet across four starts down in grade.
Mr Croissant might have reached his mark: So
Mr Croissant has one of the more recognisable names in Hong Kong and he put it up in lights with his third victory at Sha Tin on Tuesday, but trainer Chris So Wai-yin feels he might be close to his mark.
The four-year-old is yet to miss a place from seven starts and he continued his good form by taking out the Class Three Shanghai Handicap (1,200m).
But Mr Croissant only beat Jumbo Prize by a neck, despite having things go his way, leaving So unsure if there is much more to come.
“I thought the last race was easier but when the jockey asked for an effort, there wasn’t a lot there,” the trainer said.
“If he goes up six points for that and stays in the class, then I think he’s got another chance.
“He’s never run further back than third, so he’s been good, but I think he’ll struggle in Class Two unless he really improves.
“But we’re always happy with a winner and let’s see what he can do next.”